Albanese Government details commitment for Northern Australia

The Albanese Government has underlined the strength of its commitment to communities in northern Australia, giving details of billions of dollars of support for projects in the north.

In the annual ministerial statement to Parliament on Northern Australia, delivered by Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, Kristy McBain – on behalf of Minister for Northern Australia Madeleine King, the Government detailed how it was working to ensure $3.8 billion committed to defence basing in the north would benefit local communities.

“A strong north means a strong nation and this government is delivering for the north by supporting industry, local jobs, the economy and social outcomes,” Minister McBain said.

As part of her statement, Minister King confirmed the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) had now approved almost $4 billion in lending across a range of sectors for the north, including critical minerals, energy, agriculture, aquaculture, universities and airports.

The Albanese Government has increased NAIF financing to a total of $7 billion and extended the NAIF’s remit to cover Australia’s Indian Ocean Territories, Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Earlier this month, Minister King held the third Northern Australia Ministerial Forum in Cairns, where representatives from the federal and state governments discussed how best to ensure local communities benefitted from $3.8 billion to be spent on Australian defence force bases across the north.

Previous Northern Australia Ministerial Forums had been held in Darwin and Kununurra.

“This government is delivering substantial investment to deliver a once-in-a-generation transformation of the northern Australian economy,” Minister King said.

Last year Minister King announced a refresh of the Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia to better address challenges and opportunities.

Minister King said the refresh would outline the government’s ambitions for the north.

Minister King said the White Paper would also ensure government and industry was working with First Nations people through initiatives such as the First Nations Clean Energy Strategy and the Indigenous Ranger Biosecurity Program. 

Other key commitments detailed as part of the Statement include the Government’s $565 million investment in the Pilbara Ports Upgrades at Lumsden Point and Dampier and $70 million investment in the Townsville Hydrogen Hub will promote clean, sustainable exports.

Minister King noted how the new Critical Minerals Strategy would focus on creating local jobs, industries and secure supply chains, with $500 million set aside for critical minerals projects.

The government’s $1.5 billion investment in the Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct in Darwin will support the Northern Territory Government to create a globally competitive precinct.

This is in addition to over $1.5 billion invested in critical road infrastructure that services important industries including beef and agriculture.

To support the security and safety of central Australians, the government is also funding close to $299 million for the Better, Safer Future for Central Australia Plan.

Working with the local community, the plan places a focus on youth services in Alice Springs and infrastructure funding for amenities, water, power and housing.

The Annual Statement to Parliament on Northern Australia is available here.